The Ship of The Dead (Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard #3)

34879201Book: The Ship of The Dead (Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard #3)

Author: Rick Riordan

I was super excited about the final book in the Magnus Chase trilogy, as I have loved reading this series over the past year and this November was the perfect time to read it, because I had an awful lot of assignments to do and I needed something light, short and fun in order to get me through the month. Whilst I did enjoy the book, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting for a series finale? It felt kind of anticlimactic for the conclusion of a trilogy, I was hoping for a little bit more I guess. It was still an incredibly fun and enjoyable ride, but I wasn’t as thrilled by it as I was hoping to be, though I don’t know if it was the book or because I was weighed down by assignments at the time I was reading it. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Loki the trickster god is free from his chains. Now he’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, armed with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Norse gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus Chase and his friends to stop Loki’s plans, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it’s ready to sail on Midsummer’s Day.

Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon who happens to be a former acquaintance. But Magnus’s biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. To defeat Loki, Magnus will need to use words, not force. This will require finding a magical elixir so deadly that it will either make Magnus Chase powerful enough to out-talk the silver-tongued Loki, or destroy Magnus utterly.

First off, I have to start with the elephant in the room: Percy. As everyone who has read the second book knows, it is hinted that Percy makes an appearance in this one. And he does, however, the blurb makes it seem as if Percy will be involved in Magnus’s adventures. He isn’t, he appears briefly at the start of the book where he helps Magnus out training in water, we find out that he and Annabeth are going to college in New Rome and that his mum has had her baby (Estelle) and then they leave again, only to be mentioned once more at the end of the book. This is fine, it is Magnus’ story and not Percy’s after all, but I just wanted to mention it because the blurb is rather misleading on this point. We do get a rather hilarious sequence where Magnus’s sword Jack tries to chat up Percy’s sword Riptide (who is apparently a girl) out of Percy’s appearance and some very cute Percabeth moments though, so it’s not totally wasted.

There were several typos that I noticed in this book, I wonder if Rick Riordan had less time to edit this one or something, because I don’t usually notice any typos in his books and there were several glaring ones here.

The chapter lengths were nice, relatively even about 10 pages per chapter, some a little longer, some shorter, but I still felt like the pacing was off? I don’t know what it was about this book, lots was happening but it seemed to move at a very slow pace compared to the other two. This might just have been me and my assignment addled brain though!

I enjoyed that Magnus’ Floor 19 flatmates had a bigger role in this one, we got to find out so much more about Mallory, Halfborn and TJ and that was nice as they’ve played mainly supporting roles up to this point, so it was nice that they all got the chance to shine and play a part a bit more in this book, their backstories and personalities feel a lot more fleshed out after this book which was nice.

Alex is still probably my favourite of the characters from this series, she/he (if you haven’t read the second book, Alex is genderfluid and his/her pronouns change frequently throughout the book, Alex never goes by they though, hence me not using it in this review), Alex is fierce, smart, sassy and so confident in who she/he is, I’m actually genuinely in awe of him/her. The rest of the cast of characters is equally cool though, I feel like in this book especially, Magnus really came into his own, he no longer feels like a carbon copy of Percy, he has his own personality and style and that is very evident through this book. Sam is also wonderful, her character arc through this book of finally being able to stand up to Loki was great. Basically everyone on Magnus’s team brings something different and it was great to get to see them all interact in this book.

I still loved the humour, the chapter titles in this book were just brilliant and it will always baffle my mind how Rick Riordan manages to make fight scenes both intense and humourous (case in point, this book features a fight scene between ceramic pottery warriors). The pop culture references again bothered me though, I get that Riordan includes them in order to connect with the kids reading, but they felt a little old even for me and I’m a lot older than the target audience of this book!

Magnus’ narration reached a new level of sarcastic in this book which I really appreciated because ya know, the more sass the better.

The diverse representation in this series is just so amazing. Sam’s Muslim faith is handled very respectfully and I have never before seen a book feature Ramadan before, so it was very interesting to see her faith integrated into the storyline for the book, as obviously quests are very draining, and fasting can present an additional obstacle to that. I obviously can’t attest to how accurate the rep was, not being Muslim myself, but there was nothing that I could see that was glaringly problematic (if you are a Muslim, feel free to correct me). Hearth is deaf and uses ASL to communicate. Alex is obviously gender fluid, & TJ & Blitz are black. Riordan has got so much better at including diversity in his books since the initial Percy Jackson books and it always makes me very happy to see such a wide array of different characters portrayed in a middle grade book.

There is a small amount of romance in this book, not very much, but I was very happy to see the Magnus/Alex relationship finally come to fruition in this book! I mean it was hinted at very heavily in the last book that Magnus had a crush on Alex and it was nice to see that finally come to fruition. I also loved that Riordan included a scene of them at the end where it shows Magnus kissing Alex whilst Alex is identifying as a guy, Magnus says and I quote:

Alex is male right now. I have just been kissed by a dude. How do I feel about that?

I have just been kissed by Alex Fierro. I am absolutely great with that

This entire part just made me squeal, I was slightly worried that Rick Riordan would go down the path of having Magnus only be interested in Alex when Alex was identifying as a girl, so it was great to have this scene confirming that Magnus is interested in Alex no matter what gender Alex is identifying as, it also pretty much confirms that Magnus is pansexual, which yay awesome!

I wish that Blitz and Hearth had been confirmed canonically gay though, that was a bit of a disappointment to me as I felt like Rick Riordan had been hinting at it for the past two books and it would have been nice to have the same on page confirmation for them as we had for Magnus’ pansexuality. It just seemed like such heavy hinting for something that never actually came to fruition. I hope that if he does another Magnus Chase series in the future, then this is actually confirmed.

The UK finally appeared in a Rick Riordan book! This probably got me happier than it should have, and they’re only there for like two chapters, but I can finally say that a Rick Riordan adventure took place (if only for a little bit) in my home country and that is very cool! There was also a little bit that took place in Norway, a country I’ve never actually seen in a book I’ve read before, so that was pretty awesome.

There was a dragon! (That is totally not the most important part of that section, Hearth gets closure with his dad and it’s sad and kind of beautiful, but you know, I’m dragon obsessed so of course that was the bit I got excited about).

I feel like I must be the last person on the planet not to know that a group of crows is called a murder? I told my friends this and they were like “Duh you didn’t know that?” so clearly I have been out of the loop on that one. Still I think it’s pretty awesome!

I thought the final fight with Loki was a little bit too easy? Like yeah, it’s beautiful that Magnus said all that wonderful stuff about his friends and it was a very moving sequence, but I was expect the final showdown to be slightly more dramatic! It is kind of fitting with his character though, he’s not a fighter, he’s a healer and a team player, so it did make sense that that was how he defeated Loki, it was just different to what I was expecting!

Chocolate tug of war sounds absolutely amazing (tug of war over a chocolate lake) and I really want to try it!

I felt like the ending was a little anticlimactic? And that it was more there to set up the next Trials of Apollo book than close this one, which I didn’t like, Magnus and co. deserve their own proper ending. It just felt like everything wound down a bit too quickly and the last four chapters or so were just filler.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but it wasn’t quite as action packed as I was expecting. It was great to see the development of the other characters from Floor 19 and see Magnus and Alex finally come to fruition but I was a little disappointed with the resolution of the Loki storyline. Still, it was exactly what I needed at the time, a light, fun filled story, so for that I am grateful and I hope that Riordan returns to these characters at some point, because after three books, it’s safe to say I’ve fallen in love with them!

My Rating: 3.5/5

I don’t know what I’ll be reviewing next as I’m reading 3 books at the moment and I don’t know which one I’ll finish first, so I guess it will be a surprise!


The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard #2)

27904311Book: The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and Gods of Asgard #2)

Author: Rick Riordan

I absolutely loved the first Magnus Chase book when I read it over the summer and so when I got this book as part of my October #otspsecretsister package (thanks Lorelai!) I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. I think I preferred the first book to this one, but this one was a very good and enjoyable read in it’s own right and it was exactly what I needed, the last few books I’ve read have been either been feel crushing (thank you Sarah J Maas), depressing (thanks to Challenger Deep) or rage inducing (thanks to No Virgin) so being able to read a funny book like this was such a refreshing break. I still loved the characters, both ones from the last book and new ones introduced in this book, the humour and the pop culture references, it was the plot of this one that I didn’t like so much, it was very……..the only word I can honestly think of to describe it is zig-zaggy and a lot of the stuff that the characters did just seemed like filler in order to get to the end. Don’t get me wrong, this was still a joyful romp through the Nine Worlds and I really enjoyed reading it, I just felt like some parts of it could have been better. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

First off, I need to talk about the characters because I loved them. As in the last book, Magnus was sassy and awesome and hilarious, although he was kind of outshone in this book by the new character Rick Riordan introduced, Alex Fierro. Alex was definitely the star of the show in this book, I absolutely loved him/her (and yes I say, him/her because Alex is gender-fluid so goes by both. It’s confusing at first, but Alex states his/her preference for pronouns throughout, so as long as you follow that, you will be fine). Alex was smart and sassy and fierce and I just loved his/her character so much! This is actually the first book with a gender fluid character that I’ve ever read, so I found that really refreshing. It also worked really well because Alex’s dad (well mum technically, but that’s a whole another story that you’ll have to read about yourselves) is Loki and since Loki is a shapeshifter, it makes perfect sense that one of Loki’s kids would be gender fluid. I really loved the friendship between Alex and Magnus, they bounced off each other and worked together really well and I sense that Magnus might have a little crush, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that progresses. I also enjoyed seeing Sam’s development in this book, we got to see more of her family and were introduced to her boyfriend for the first time and it was interesting to see how she handled her two worlds merging and also how she continued to handle her struggle with her identity as a daughter of Loki and a Muslim. I appreciated how sensitively Sam’s faith was handled as well, and that Magnus as an atheist was shown as respectful to her religion (as an atheist, it really bugs me when we’re shown as insensitive to religion, we’re not, we just don’t happen to have one ourselves). Jack (the Sword of Summer) was a particular delight, especially his crush on the Skofnung Sword, I found that far too hilarious. I also still love Otis the goat, though I’m pretty sure that’s just because every time I read his name, I think about my dog!

Whilst I appreciate that Riordan has clearly tried (and succeeded) in including more diversity in his new series, there were moments in this book that were kind of PSA-like and I didn’t love that because it felt like it kind of took away from the tone of the book.

I loved that we got to see Alfheim in this book and got more development of Hearth’s character and got to meet his dad. I swear Hearth’s life was so sad, I just wanted to give him a big hug! Blitz and Hearth’s friendship is also so cute (I ship it a little, shhh don’t tell). I get the sense that we’re not done with Hearth’s dad so I’ll be interested to see if he pops up in the next book.

The plot did seem like it jumped around a heck of a lot. I get that everything was building up to the big fight at the end, but it did seem a little unfocused through the book, like the characters were going on all these mini quests and you’re like “okay this is fun, but when do we get to the Hammer and the whole thing that this book has building up to?”. Don’t get me wrong, the mini quests were fun and they were all necessary to the plot in the end, but at the time, they did mostly feel like distractions. The Sword of Summer’s plot felt a lot more linear, whereas this one was kind of jumpy. I still enjoyed the ride and there were lots of hilarious moments and great fight scenes along the way, but I felt like there could have been a more focused way for our protagonists to reach their end goal and I couldn’t help but feel that in the end, the whole quest for the hammer was sort of pointless since it was basically all a trick by Loki.

I enjoyed that Loki formed a big part of this book, because his job is essentially just to mess everyone around and it’s kind of fun to see that, plus he’s a genuinely evil villain who you can really hate and I love having one of those around (though I think Hearth’s dad kind of ties with Loki as to who I hate more).

I noticed quite a few spelling and grammar errors in this book, which is unusual for a Rick Riordan book (or at least I’ve never noticed many before). It didn’t detract from the story much but it was a little jarring every time I came across one!

The pop culture references throughout the book were hilarious and on point and I love that Riordan has kept the trend of the funny chapter titles from the last book. I also liked that there was good mix of longer and shorter chapters. The Norse Gods are just hilarious especially selfie taking Heimdall and it was great to see even more of them in this book.

I liked that we got to meet Amir in this book and I thought him and Sam were really sweet and it was nice to see an arranged marriage that’s not portrayed as a bad thing (especially since the main plot of this book involves an unwanted arranged marriage as part of a Loki scheme).

There were a lot of times in this book when I wanted to scream at the characters for being stupid because some of the things that happened seemed so damn obvious to me and they never see any of them coming, but I love them anyway!

I’m hoping that in the next book we get to see even more of the Nine Worlds, we got Asgard and Alfheim this book, I’m hoping for Niflheim, Muspellheim & Helheim in the next book, then we will have seen all of them!

That ending! That ending! Rick Riordan is the king of the cliffhanger ending. I’m not sure I can wait a year after that. I’m mean that last line was everything but at the same time, I’m still like, damn you Rick!

I did enjoy this book, the characters, humour and pop culture references were on point, even if the plot was a little unfocused and I’m very excited to see what the finale of this book has in store!

My rating: 4/5

My next review will be of my current read, Snow Like Ashes.

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard #1)

magnus chaseBook: The Sword Of Summer (Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard #1)

Author: Rick Riordan

I’ll have to admit, I was slightly worried when I heard about this book. I’ve never read anything by Rick Riordan that wasn’t Percy Jackson (for some reason I’ve never read his Egypt series, nor have I ever had the desire to), so I was worried that this would either feel like a weird carbon copy or would never live up to the series and characters I love so much. I am happy to say however, that I really, really enjoyed this book! It made me laugh, I loved the characters, I loved the world and I’m really excited for the sequel in October. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

So, first off, what I loved about this book was the return of the funny chapter titles. If you’ve read Percy Jackson, you’ll remember that each chapter was titled after something funny that happened in the chapter. Rick Riordan didn’t do this for Heroes of Olympus and I missed it, so I was happy that this returned in Magnus Chase, it felt nice and familiar. The writing style reminded me of original Percy Jackson, without it feeling like a total carbon copy which I loved. It didn’t feel like I was just reading Percy Jackson with different characters, it felt like it’s own book which I appreciated.

Magnus was a great character, he was funny and snarky (like Percy but a slightly darker sense of humour) but he’s a lot tougher than Percy (having lived on the streets) and a little less goofy, but they share the wonderful loyalty and kindness towards their family and friends. He kind of felt like a mix of Annabeth and Percy to me but he had enough of his own personality quirks that he didn’t feel like a carbon copy and he’s such an unlikely hero (his battle with Surt may be one of the funniest battles I’ve ever read) that it’s really fun to follow him on his adventures (He’s kind of a hapless hero which is quite endearing). I also really loved Samirah, I’ve never actually read a book with a Muslim character before, let alone one that was smart, kick butt, loves to fly planes and is happy about her arranged marriage because she actually likes the guy. The first moment Samirah appeared on the page I was like “I like this chick” and that feeling remained through the whole book. I really liked reading about her family history too and I like to learn more in future books.

I liked the small links and references to the PJ Universe in this, every time I saw one, I smiled and did a little happy dance inside. I also loved the small Annabeth cameos throughout the book, she wasn’t there a lot but she was there and I really liked seeing the relationship between Magnus and Annabeth, and through Magnus, being able to learn more about the Chase family history (all of the Chases are seriously smart, I mean Magnus and Annabeth’s uncle is a professor and so is Annabeth’s dad, plus you have Annabeth,  there is some serious brains going on in that family, Magnus is maybe not as much but he still doesn’t seem to be completely dumb) and I can’t wait to find out more about the entire Chase clan in the next two books.

The chapters were pretty short for the most part, but I liked this though because it kept the pace moving at a relatively quick speed and I never felt like I was getting bogged down when reading, which I love.

I got ridiculously excited when Magnus mentioned one of my favourite authors (Neal Shusterman) which has absolutely nothing to do with this book and more to do with me loving it when fictional characters like the same authors that you do! Speaking of references to other books, whenever the Valkyries were mentioned, all I could think of was Valkyrie from Skulduggery Pleasant and I know she probably got the name from Norse mythology, but I still thought of her every time the Valkyries came up.

I loved Blitz and Hearth, Magnus’ sidekicks (along with Sam), a dwarf and an elf respectively. I think Blitz was my favourite of the two (fashion conscious dwarf is all I’m going to say) but I really loved Hearth too, he’s a deaf elf that can do magic, and he’s funny even without ever saying anything (as he signs everything). I really liked that he was deaf because you don’t see many deaf characters in books and yet his deafness wasn’t the most important thing about him. I definitely think Rick Riordan has got so much better at including diverse characters through the years and in a way that feels very natural (did I mention that Blitz is a black dwarf?). I loved the camaraderie between the group, they all were so different and yet they fitted so well together (kind of bonded by the pain they’ve all been through I think) and I think this may be my favourite group of characters Rick Riordan has put together yet.

I learned so much about Norse mythology through this book! I knew about Loki and Thor because they’re pretty famous, but I didn’t know anything about any of the other gods and I was worried this would mean I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as Percy Jackson (where I had some knowledge of Greek mythology before I read the book) but it was exactly the opposite, because I went in knowing nothing, I learned so much and that was really cool. I loved all the gods, as usual, Rick Riordan does a great job at giving them unique and distinct personalities. I think my favourite was Thor (his obsession with TV shows was hilarious) but I also loved Utgard-Loki (technically a giant and different to Loki), his scenes with Magnus were hilarious.

I was worried Magnus’ powers would not be as cool as Percy’s because his dad (not saying who it is as that would be a spoiler!) didn’t sound as cool as Poseidon, but luckily his powers were awesome! Sam’s powers were also really cool, I think if I had to pick a power from any of Riordan’s demigods, I would like hers.

There were so many hilarious moments through the book, I spent most of it laughing out loud. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite moment, there were so many and I feel like I much prefer it when Rick Riordan writes in 1st Person POV than 3rd Person (like in Heroes of Olympus), I mean I found the Heroes of Olympus books funny but they were not as bust a gut funny as this book. There were also some great pop culture references in this which I really enjoyed.

Also the Sword of Summer……without saying too much because I don’t want to give spoilers, there are very few authors who could make me like and laugh at an inanimate object, Rick Riordan is one of them. That is all I’m going to say, I’d like you to discover the wonders of The Sword Of Summer for yourselves.

I also loved Otis the goat, simply because my dog is called Otis, so every time Otis appeared on the page, all I could think about was my dog and I was like “Yes, Otis!”.

I really liked that we got to see most of the different realms (we don’t get to see Alfheim, Muspellheim, Helheim or Niflheim) but we saw enough of the Nine Worlds that you get a good sense of the Viking Realm and I’m hoping that we’ll get to see the other 4 worlds in the next two books. Each of the worlds was really unique and I loved the idea of the World Tree as a way to transport the characters from one world to the next.

Despite Magnus being nowhere near as good a fighter as Percy (being a warrior, really not his thing) we do still get some pretty cool battle scenes in this book, all of which I really enjoyed. The villains (I’m not sure if I should say who they are, I don’t want to give spoilers!) were all really cool and worthy adversaries.

I loved that even though Magnus’ mum is dead (revealed within the first few pages so not a spoiler), we get to see through the book how much he loved her and how close they were when she was alive and I loved that, I kind of have a soft spot for guys who are close to their mums (probably one of the reasons why I love Percy so much). I also loved all of Magnus’ hallmates in Valhalla (Viking afterlife, Magnus is an einherji, essentially a dead warrior, again not a spoiler, it says this on the blurb) and I hope to see them a bit more in the next book.

It was interesting comparing Magnus’ first meeting with his dad to Percy’s, I feel like Magnus was a lot more chilled and less angry than Percy (which is strange because of the two, Percy strikes me as the more chilled) and far more willing to accept his dad, which has nothing to do with why I liked the story, I just found it interesting.

There were a few cool twists that I didn’t see coming, especially at the end and now I’m not sure how I’m going to wait to find out what happens next! At least the new book release is only two months away, not a whole year away like it would have been if I read this book when it first came out!

So basically, this book has a great cast of characters who are diverse and very different to the characters in Percy Jackson, a great plot, great new mythology, great world and the trademark Rick Riordan humour that we all know and love, so basically you should go out and get it right now because it’s amazing!

My rating: 5/5

My next review will probably be of 13 Minutes, the e-ARC I am currently reading as I am almost at the end of that.